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The State Of The Fitness Industry

Why the Fitness Industry Is in Better Shape than You Thought

There were a number of discussions at Ryan Lee’s Continuity Summit about the current state of the fitness industry. In fact, that’s been a hot topic on Facebook and blogs recently as well.

I’ve heard a number of people – many whom I respect greatly – say the fitness industry is in trouble.

I disagree.  Strongly disagree.

Here’s my perspective, then you can decide for yourself.

The personal training segment of the fitness industry is very young.  Compared to established professions like law or medicine – we’re in our infant stage.

How many retired personal trainers have you met?  Not many… right?

Because of that, changes in the industry are frequent and rapid.  That’s not a bad thing – just a fact.

Change – or evolution, if you will – is not a bad thing.  It needs to happen to weed out the pretenders and allow the industry to become the best that it can be for the professionals and the consumers.

The people that suggest the industry are in trouble do so for usually one of two reasons:

  1. They think the quality of trainers is poor.
  2. They think some of the people teaching trainers marketing are of questionable ethics.


I’m not going to dispute either of those facts – because I agree.  But I would tell you that the industry is in better shape than it’s ever been… and here’s why.

  1. The quality of the average personal trainer or fitness professional has always been low, but now more than ever there are an increasing number of fitness professionals aspiring to be better than average.  More trainers attending workshops and events to become better coaches than ever before. Just a couple of weeks ago I was at a Perform Better event in Rhode Island and there were 900 attendees.  Just 2 years ago at the same event there were about 500.  That’s almost double the number of fitness professionals actively going to get better at their craft. More fitness pros are paying attention to guys like Mike Robertson, Bill Hartman, Eric Cressey, Stu McGill & Gray Cook than ever before.  It wasn’t that long ago that ‘assessments’ were health history questionnaires, step tests, sit and reach and things like that.  Now solid fitness pros do quality assessments for their clients to optimize their programs for maximum benefit.
  2. More consumers are stepping away from selectorized equipment and cardio machines and working with trainers and coaches than ever before. It wasn’t too long ago that the common picture of a trainer was the guy standing over someone seated on a machine while they were holding their trusty clipboard.  That approach is dying off quickly. With a variety of things pulling consumers off the machines and inspiring them to at least give ‘real’ training a try, it’s only a matter of time before they find their way to the best coaches if they haven’t already.
  3. Along the same lines – people want to be coached more now than ever before. People are more familiar with personal training, group training has made it more accessible to people beyond just the affluent, and just renting access to equipment has failed – so being coached is the obvious answer for more and more people.
  4. Starting a business is easier for trainers now than in the past.  Consumers were clearly more interested in the sizzle of big box clubs in the past – something few trainers could match.  And the first personal training franchise that got any traction required about $150,000 to get started – well beyond the means of a lot of good trainers we meet. But now warehouse gyms are the norm.  Light industrial space is the destination of choice for more and more trainers.  No more need to buy a handful of expensive pieces of cardio.  A lot of people are getting started with group training or bootcamp models using a subleased space and then graduation into their own location. Starting a business is now less expensive than in the past.
  5. More fitness pros than ever before are generating six, multiple six and even seven figure revenues. When we attended the first Ryan Lee Bootcamp years ago – there were only a handful of attendees that I’d say were doing well.  The numbers of the people that are now in the middle of the pack in our Bootcamp Blueprint program are what the top performers were doing just 18 months ago. Achieving a very nice income and a better lifestyle is much more attainable and more common than ever before in our industry.

Sure – there are problems with the industry.  There are people that extract a LOT more value than they add, focused entirely on making money and not at all on helping.  There are still plenty of low quality trainers.

That’s fine by me.

There is also more competition than ever before.  And competition exposes frauds, weeds out the poor providers and makes the good better.

When you see other bootcamp or facilities pop up in your community, you hopefully raise your game a notch or two.  Good.  If they aren’t up to the task, they’ll die off and you’re now better than you were.

Our industry is evolving and part of the evolution is people succeeding due to being better – not just being the first or the only solution.

Maybe I’m off base.  I know some very smart people that have suggested that the fitness industry is in trouble.  But to me, holding things to a higher standard and weeding out the people who don’t add value isn’t trouble… it’s an improvement.

Let me know what you think about the fitness industry below.

Dedicated to your success,



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